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Campus love (and Valentine's Day) in the age of Covid-19

On February 9, 2021

BY TYLER HART, ALEXIS FLEMING and ALY REIFF / VN STAFF WRITERS

For student-athlete and Canada native Taryn McManus, Valentine’s Day definitely will look a little different this year.

With her significant other being across the international border, the Detroit Mercy junior will have limited options.

Covid-19 prevents either one from visiting the other due to border-travel restrictions, so FaceTime may be the only way they can spend the holiday together.

The pandemic is upending many Valentine’s Day plans.

Sophomore student-athlete Kyle Loken and his girlfriend play men’s and women’s lacrosse at the university.

“It is always hard to try and plan the perfect Valentine’s Day for your significant other, but with Covid restrictions it has become nearly impossible,” he said.

Eligible bachelor and sophomore-transfer Luke Majick admitted there will be challenges.

“Nowadays, finding a date is almost entirely electronic,” he said. “But seeing the empty sidewalks while walking to and from class has made new obstacles in the dating game.”

Feb. 14 will mark day 351 since the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Michigan. Day 351 also happens to be the Feast of St. Valentine.

Since the Roman Empire, this day of love has been celebrated.

It’s big business now, though.

In a market that hits close to $28 billion in revenue for the holiday, experts are estimating a $7 billion – or nearly 25% – drop.

“I currently don’t have an any Valentine's Day plans,” said sophomore Raven Mial. “If I do plan something, it will be for myself.”

In her case, it’s not because of the pandemic.

“The pandemic hasn’t affected my dating life,” she said. “I feel there are many ways to meet others during this pandemic. As of now, I'm not really focused on dating.”

Dating sites and social media have become a more popular way of dating during the pandemic.

“People are still meeting and going on dates in person,” she said.

Though Mial has found peace focusing on things other than dating, another student has found creative ways to stay close to her significant other in a Covid-19 safe way.

“My dating life during the pandemic has caused me to reach out to my significant other a lot more than usual,” said junior Kaelyn Johnson. “We FaceTime constantly and send each other funny videos on social media.”

Abbie McDowell, who is living on campus, said that in the era of Covid-19 Valentine’s Day does have a different feel – especially compared to those elementary school celebrations of days long past.

“I remember as a kid it was always fun because we would do the class parties and pass out Valentine cards to everybody,” she said. “I think it can be fun to celebrate, but the older I have gotten the more it has just become a thing people do. Valentine's Day is kind of a cultural thing.”

Meeting someone for the first time and only being able to see the top half of their face, because they are wearing a mask, can be deceiving, McDowell pointed out.

She feels that she would have to approach everything with caution and take things slowly if she had never met them before.

Some students would consider going on a Zoom or FaceTime date with their significant other or to get to know a person who interests them.

Those who are in a committed relationship might find breaking away from the college atmosphere for a more romantic place to spend time with their Valentine more challenging this year.

Students who are dating must be a little more creative in the state of Michigan because of restaurant restrictions.

Detroit Mercy’s Bridgid Fox feels indifferent about the holiday and does not think it’s comparable to all the other holidays.

“I’m an outgoing person and like interacting with others, but the pandemic hasn’t really put a damper on that side of me,” said Fox.

Neither Fox nor McDowell have interest in joining any online dating programs now.

“In the future when I’m in my upper twenties, and if I am still single, maybe I will do some type of Christian online dating program,” said Fox.

Of course, there’s the matter of teeth, too – and masks, she noted.

“If you have messed up teeth under that mask and I don’t know about it, then you reveal yourself, that’s not good for me,” she said. “I’m a very big teeth person, they are a deal breaker for me.”

In a sample of 60 students at Detroit Mercy, 63% said that the virus would not affect their romantic holiday.

The optimism from these students may stem from the partial state reopening Feb. 1 after being on lockdown since mid-November.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has called for an end to the total lockdown and for partial reopening of restaurants, bars and lodging.

It could be just what Cupid ordered.

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